Welcome The New Executive Director At REACH

We want to share the exciting news that Amarely Gutiérrez Oliver has accepted our offer to become REACH’s next Executive Director, effective March 6, 2023. The Board voted unanimously last week to hire her. Until Amarely begins at REACH, I will be the Interim Executive Director.

After almost two decades of Laura R. Van Zandt’s deeply empathetic, inspiring, and steadfast leadership, we set out to hire a successor who could preserve and nurture our strong community partnerships, continue to build our team around a shared vision, and keep moving REACH forward as an effective service provider, advocate, and change agent in our communities.

Amarely Gutierrez Oliver photo

REACH worked with a national search firm specializing in nonprofits to recruit the best talent in the field, and we were fortunate to have multiple excellent finalists. Amarely stood out both for her robust experience in the field, and for her empowerment-based approach, both as a team-builder and in advocating for survivors and amplifying their voices. Her work at the YWCA of Central Massachusetts earned her a stellar reputation. We are thrilled to welcome her to REACH.

Born in El Salvador and raised in Salem, Massachusetts, Amarely developed a passion for justice and equality from an early age, having experienced discrimination firsthand. After earning a degree in psychology, she worked with children and youth in crisis for several years before entering the field of domestic violence, starting at a shelter in Florida, which served a highly diverse population. There, she worked to build a more equitable organization, advocated for social change, and promoted innovation, including a financial literacy program for survivors that became a model in the region.

In 2012, she joined the YWCA of Central Massachusetts. As director of domestic violence services for seven years, she transformed their shelter program, putting the needs and priorities of survivors front and center, and she was a passionate and effective advocate for marginalized groups. She built partnerships and engaged with a wide range of stakeholders to advance equity and inclusion. She also served on the Governor’s Council to Address Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence.

Most recently, after moving to Connecticut with her family, Amarely has been working as a clinician, but she is eager to return to her home state and join us at REACH. She writes: “For over 40 years, REACH has driven positive change in the 27 communities it serves,” she said. “It will be an honor and a privilege to be able to lead this team, doing the work that we all love. REACH is a vital resource for people experiencing domestic violence. It provides refuge, support, advocacy, and empowerment. Through community and shelter advocacy, REACH uplifts survivors and provides hope and healing to those experiencing domestic violence and with innovative programs like Latinas Know Your Rights, survivors from vulnerable communities are supported and become leaders and help others. And through its prevention programs, it is working to ensure that our communities are not only safe from violence, but also from oppression. This is exciting work that changes lives.”

Stephen B. Reed, Chair of the REACH Board of Directors, who led the search committee, said Amarely is the right person to lead REACH into its next chapter: “On behalf of the Board of Directors, I want to extend a warm welcome to Amarely. With nearly two decades in this field and a great track record as a team-builder, innovator, and change agent, I know she will be an excellent leader. We are thrilled to support her as she builds upon the solid foundation laid by Laura Van Zandt in her 18 years as executive director.”

We are enormously grateful to you for your continued support of REACH and this work. I hope you will join me in welcoming Amarely to the REACH and look forward to working together with you to end domestic violence.

Reaching together,

Deborah Heimel

Interim Executive Director